Monday, February 6, 2012

Market Mondays: Gumball Machine - Without the Gum!

Unexpectedly, this year I found a way to supplement my classroom economy to promote good behavior from my students.  My class earns classroom cash (affectionately called Kenzie Kash named after my daughter) for a number of things including doing their classroom jobs, scoring well on certain assignments and earning medals in MangaHigh (don't know what that website is? Check back on Wednesday, when I'll talk about it in Website Wednesdays!).  While searching the forum boards this summer, I was reading all about these neat little capsule activities that teachers were creating.  Intrigued, I thought about creating them myself and was looking for a unique way to store them.  While walking through the grocery story one day, I noticed the capsule machine by the doorway.  That got me thinking! Going home, I started to search for vending machine dispensers and was shocked at how much they actually are.  However, during my search (I searched on Craigslist and on Ebay, which is where I eventually bought from) I came across this fabulous gumball machine for $50.   The price was right, the size of the machine was right but unfortunately, after doing some more research, I found out it would not hold the capsules but only small gumballs. 

I was so taken with this machine that I vowed to find an idea so I could buy one (and reason it out to my husband).  I knew the kids would just love the idea of having a gumball machine in the classroom.  BUT – I knew I did not want it to be filled with gum (not allowed at our school anyway) or candy of any sort.  After thinking about it for a few days, I thought about using it as a way to reward students who didn’t earn any behavior points for the week. 

After ordering the machine on eBay for only $50 (which included shipping – hey I’ve spent more on things that I barely ever use in my classroom), I started to brainstorm what I could put in it.  When the machine arrived, I tried a couple different ideas.  My first idea was multi-colored marbles.  They worked but when you turned the handle A LOT of marbles would come out.  I wanted only one to.  So I tried bouncy balls but they were too big. I almost gave up and purchased candy to go in it, but while I was walking through the Dollar Tree, I came across the little puff balls for crafts.  THEY WERE PERFECT! Different colors, the right size, and mimicked the look of gumballs without actually being them.  Plus, these could be recycled and put back into the machine which made my pocketbook (and husband) very happy!

So, my classroom is now the proud owner of our very own Puff Ball Machine.  If students are good and don’t receive any points for the week, they get to take a turn of the handle. Depending on which color puff ball that comes out, they get a set amount of class cash.  The students get pretty excited when they know they get to take a turn on the machine.

Here’s the breakdown:

* Price – seriously $50 not that much for such an awesome idea!
* Size – it does not take up a lot of room but is big enough to be noticed
* You can use any size coins or you can turn the handle to the left without any coins
* Easily refillable
* Light enough to be shaked when needed (see con below)

* Easily jammed – if you aren’t careful the coins can get jammed which is why I no longer use coins
*  The puff balls sometimes aren’t heavy enough to come out with every turn which means I have to shake the machine.

Based upon all of this, I award this particular machine 5 stars! I love it and so do my students!!




  1. Cute idea! I wish there was a cheaper version, but...sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. lol. You could also incorporate math (probability) lessons with this!

  2. Hello please could you explain your gum ball machine reward system in a bit more detail? When a child gets a ball what do they do with it? Also what are the points for? Loving the idea just trying to understand how it works in practise. Many thanks, Amy

  3. What size gum ball machine did you get? This is a cool idea!

  4. If anyone is looking to do this I found a gumball machine like this one for pretty good prices.


  5. Awesome, I really like your post because the information which you given in this blog is really extra ordinary.

    vending machine business


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